Global Platform for Action to End FGM/C Statement on The Gambia

As an international consortium of civil society organizations, champions, survivors, and grassroots representatives united in a singular mission to support the abandonment and prevention of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), we (the Global Platform for Action to End FGM/C) express our profound concern over the attempts to repeal the law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia.

This law represents a critical safeguard for the rights, health, and well-being of girls and women in The Gambia, and its repeal is a direct threat to the hard-won progress made in protecting them from this form of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).  

We stand in unwavering solidarity with the local activists in The Gambia who work tirelessly to uphold the ban on FGM, championing the rights and well-being of women and girls in their communities. We call on the Gambian authorities to honour their commitments under international and regional human rights instruments and reject this harmful Bill.

It was powerful to witness the outpouring of international support for upholding the FGM ban. For further details, statements and speeches, please refer to the list below:

Collation of Regional and International Statements in support of upholding the law on FGM in the Gambia

‘The Maputo Protocol is based on the CEDAW [the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women] but it makes it appropriate for the African continent because it mentions culture’, Mionki says. ‘The protocol makes it quite clear that we are not going to use religious values as a smokescreen. It says that culture is a positive thing but that we must eliminate harmful practices. One of those is FGM, which the protocol is unequivocal about: it’s a harmful practice.’  Judy Mionki African Regional Forum Liaison Officer, IBA Human Rights Law Committee

We urge lawmakers in The Gambia to prioritise the protection of human rights and uphold their obligations under international conventions by retaining the ban on FGM. We call on the Gambian National Assembly to reject this dangerous bill and send a clear message that the rights of Gambian women and girls will not be compromised.”

‘We are an international coalition of women's and human rights organizations and are writing to you today with an urgent plea to uphold the current legal ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia. We, the undersigned organizations, have been campaigning for human rights for years, many of us specifically on gender-specific issues and female genital mutilation. Some of us also work together with representatives of the Gambian diaspora and Gambian activists, who have brought the current events to our attention. With this open letter, we are therefore responding to a request for support from advocates of the existing ban and want to express our full solidarity with them.’ 

‘As the National Assembly of The Gambia will soon enter the second ordinary session of the year to discuss, among other things, the alarming repeal of the ban on FGM, End FGM EU is deeply worried about the potential reversal of the ban and its dreadful consequences on the lives of millions of individuals in The Gambia and the world. This would result in severe violence against the rights of women and girls, depriving them of the layer of protection that the ban on FGM offers and will have a significant impact on the global movement to end FGM.’

“More civil society organisations (CSOs) have joined the call for the rejection of the proposed Women’s (Amendment) Bill 2023 which is aimed at lifting the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia. Another group of CSOs comprising Female Lawyers Association The Gambia (FLAG), The Gambia Bar Association, and The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) Wednesday engaged the National Assembly Joint Committee of Health and Gender on a consultative meeting about the aforementioned bill. FLAG president Ms. Anna Njie said they oppose the proposed private member’s bill because repealing the anti-FGM law will not only weaken national protections for women and girls but also exposes The Gambia to legal challenges and potential loss of international support. As an institution, she said they recommend the upholding of the FGM law. Njie highlighted four key recommendations from the policy brief presented to the joint committee for consideration. One is for the committee to reject the proposed FGM Bill and uphold the integrity of the anti-FGM law in alignment with constitutional, national and international obligations.”

“As a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), born and raised in The Gambia, a Serahule and a proud Muslim, my journey has been one of pain, resilience, and unwavering determination, but also recognizing my roots and the challenges that comes from speaking up, especially if you are a woman and more especially if you are one from my own group. Today, as I reflect on the challenges that lie ahead, I am compelled to raise my voice in defense of the progress that has been made in protecting our daughters, our sisters, and our future generations. I am convinced that more than ever today, FGM must end with our generation. This has been my position and I have invested my own efforts to raise awareness by sharing my own experience and helping bring the issue to the public agenda.”

Statement Signatories:

End FGM Canada Network, End FGM European Network, Equality Now, Orchid Project, Sahiyo, The Girl Generation, The US End FGM/C Network

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